Construction, Validation and Application of a Virtual Reality Simulator for the Training of Transurethral Resection of the Prostate
Abstract: The fundamental of surgical training is the traditional apprenticeship method introduced by William Halsted which has been used for the last 100 years. It is based on learning in the operating room (OR) where the resident is guided by an experienced surgeon and gradually and methodically exposed to surgery. The continuous development of surgical methods together with the growing awareness of medical errors and ethical considerations have made the Halsted method outdated and there is an obvious need to be able to learn the skills of surgery without risking patient safety. New methods such as laparoscopy and endoscopy demand specific skills and abilities that may not be met by everyone. At the same time, the physical limitations of these new methods have made it possible to construct virtual reality (VR) simulators to practise and learn the skills necessary.This study is about the construction and evaluation of a VR-simulator for the training of transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). It also concerns the specific abilities needed to become a good surgeon.A simulator for training TURP was developed after a face validity study where 17 experienced urologists gave their opinion of the specific content necessary for the training of this procedure. After a content validity study by nine experienced urologists and application of necessary improvements, a group of 11 medical students and nine experienced urologists performed a construct validity test where the urologists showed significantly higher levels of both skill and effectiveness compared to the inexperienced students when performing a simulated TURP procedure. The students showed a positive learning curve, but did not reach the levels of the urologists. The results of the experienced urologists were used as the minimal criterion level when 24 urology residents practised the procedure. Training took place while on a course on benign enlargement of the prostate and its treatment options, with emphasis on the “gold standard” treatment – TURP. During the course they performed three guided and video-taped TURP-procedures each on selected patients. Between two of the procedures they performed criterion-based training in the simulator. This VR-to-OR study showed improvement in operative skills with the same patient outcome as in the normal clinical situation. It also showed that simulator training improved their skills even more. During their time on the course their personality traits (TCI) and cognitive abilities (Rey complex figure and recognition trial, tower of London, WAIS-III) were tested. The results showed that a better learning curve in the OR was associated with a better simulator learning curve and a good visuospatial memory. The associated personality traits were high levels of goal directedness, impulse control, responsibility, anticipation of harmful events and a balanced attachment style.In conclusion, we have demonstrated that it was technically possible to construct a useful simulator for the training of TURP (PelvicVision®) which may now be considered clinically validated for this purpose. Novice training and performance in the simulator improves the learning curve and predicts the resident’s performance in the OR. The results support the implementation of validated simulation technology in a criterion-based training curriculum for residents. Furthermore, the results showed preliminary data on personality traits and visuospatial abilities that are important for learning a complex surgical procedure.
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